- Secure Trust Bank has reported an 11.5% increase in pre-tax profit to £38.7m for the year ended 31 December 2019, as customer numbers soared 24.9% to 1,598,256, but has seen a slowdown in demand in consumer finance this year.

The company said that controlled growth in both its business finance and consumer finance businesses helped to deliver increased profits in 2019.

It announced that adjusted pre-tax profit was £41.1m for the year, up 12%, despite the slowdown in UK economic activity in the second half of 2019.

Operating income climbed 9.2% to £165.5m in 2019, while it saw a continued improvement in loan book quality, reducing the cost of risk to 1.4%, down from 1.8% in 2018.

Secure Trust Bank's total assets rose 9.8% to £2,682.8m.

The bank had previously announced it would not recommend a final dividend for 2019 and in its full year results chairman Lord Forsyth said it will keep this under review.

He added: '2019 was another successful year for the group with double digit growth in profits before tax delivered for the second successive year. This and a strong start to 2020 would ordinarily see the Board recommend an increased dividend.

'However we have rapidly entered a period of extreme uncertainty driven by the COVID-19 outbreak and in these exceptional circumstances the Board considered that it was more prudent to preserve capital.'

Chief executive Paul Lynam said: 'The group entered 2020 aspiring to deliver double-digit profit before tax growth for the third successive year.

'After the first quarter the group was trading in line with management expectations, despite increasing impairment provisions to recognise the threat of Covid-19. From mid-March we have seen a slowdown in demand for our products, particularly in respect of our consumer finance lending.'

At 9:54am: [LON:STB] Secure Trust Bank PLC share price was 0p at 797p

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